Nominative Case in German

This lesson will focus on the nominative case in German. I will try to keep things as simple as possible while covering all the main areas.

The subject of a sentence is always in the nominative case. The subject is normally the person or thing performing the action of a verb.

When looking up a noun in a dictionary, you will always find it in this case. And did you know, the 'nominative' case originates from the Latin, meaning 'case of naming'?

Just before we start, please ensure you are familiar with my German Nouns lesson. 

Ready to learn all about the German genitive case? Right, let's get started by splitting the case up into four easy-to-follow sections with the help of a few tables.

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Nominative Case in German: Section 1

Definite articles in the nominative case 

(i.e. the various forms of 'the')

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
der die das die


Der Arzt ist pünktlich (The doctor is on time). 'The doctor' is the subject of the sentence.

Die Frau kocht das Abendessen. (The woman is cooking the evening meal). 'The woman' is the subject as she is cooking the dinner. She is performing the action of the verb: cooking.

Das Kaninchen isst die Karotten. (The rabbit is eating the carrots). 'The rabbit' is the subject as it is eating the carrots. It is performing the action of the verb: eating.

Die Männer fahren in die Stadt. (The men are driving into town). 'The men' are the subject as they are driving into town. They are performing the action of the verb: driving.

Nominative Case in German: Section 2

Indefinite articles in the nominative case 
(i.e. the various forms of 'a' / 'an' in German)

Masculine Feminine Neuter
ein eine ein


Ein Fotoapparat liegt auf den Boden. (A camera is lying on the floor ). 'A camera' is the subject as it is lying on the floor.

Eine Familie wohnt in dem Haus. (A family lives in the house). 'A family' is the subject as it is living in the house.

Ein Auto fährt vorbei. (A car is driving past). 'A car' is the subject as it is driving past.

Nominative Case in German: Section 3

Personal pronouns in the nominative case
(i.e. small words which replace nouns)

Pronoun English
ich I
du you (informal)
er he
sie she
es it
wir we
ihr you (informal plural)
Sie you (formal singular and plural)
sie they

Er ist müde (He is tired.)
Ich möchte heimgehen (I would like to go home)

Nominative Case in German: Section 4

Possessive pronouns 
(i.e. small words which replace nouns and establish possession)

You will remember this pattern from the indefinite article table...yes, thankfully, it is exactly the same. And also, you will notice the endings of each of the possessive pronouns below follow exactly the same that another sigh of relief I hear? ;)

Masculine Feminine Neuter English translation
mein meine mein my
dein deine dein your (informal singlar)
sein seine sein his
ihr ihre ihr her
sein seine sein its
unser unsere unser our
euer eure euer your (informal plural)
Ihr Ihre Ihr your (formal singular and plural)
ihr ihre ihr their


Meine Handtasche ist neu. (My handbag is new)
Dein Vater ist da. (Your father is here)
Unser Haus wird verkauft. (Our house is being sold)

Once you have understood how the nominative works and are able to pick out the subject of a sentence, you are now ready to work out the direct object of the sentence which takes the accusative case. Why is this important?

Because German masculine nouns used as direct object make a 'declensional' change (i.e. they change their form.)

Next, the Accusative Case in German lesson.

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